Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lost and found

There are times when being missing is actually an improvement over being found. Imani Smith of Washington, DC knows exactly what we're talking about. After having been reported missing by his family late last week, he was recently discovered.

Behind bars in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Apparently, Smith was on a bus with Ivan Thomas, and the two were trying to gather together finances, presumably for their trip, by selling pornographic DVDs. When a prospective customer decided that he didn't really need to see yet another film about college co-eds on a soul-defining road trip, or, better yet, another story about women in prison, one of the two men decided it was a fine time to start swinging a knife around.

Needless to say, the two men were arrested, and, when the DC area released their missing persons reports, Montgomery County was releasing their information regarding weekend arrests. Shortly afterwards, the connection was made, and the cases were closed.

This, of course, causes us here at the CSM to wonder, if you're going to attempt to run away from home (which it seems like Smith may have been attempting to do), why would you (or your partner) engage in such a high profile activity? After all, that's akin to leaving rehab, shaving your head, and attacking a car with an umbrella. If you don't want people to know where you are, it's probably a good idea to lay fairly low. Don't brandish weapons while on the bus. Don't get angry when people don't want to buy "One Night In Paris" from you. Definitely don't get involved in a Hollywood romance. Heck, one of the only things that Smith could've done to draw more attention to himself would've been to announce either that he was the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby, or that he was running for President.

Although, in retrospect, Tom Vilsack's profile wasn't raised at all, either. Maybe Smith should've taken that route.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How do I love me? Let me count the ways

A recent study, conducted by five psychologists, has found that, after years of telling children that they're special, that they can do anything, and that it's all about them, they've apparently been listening. In fact, current college students are "more self-centered and narcissistic" than previous generations. The researchers used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory to fuel their findings. The NPI, which looks for a response on the highly scientific "Strongly Agree-Strongly Disagree" scale to statements such as "I think I am a special person" and "The new Starbucks coffee drink was made with me in mind", has been used for over twenty years to gather information on how people feel about themselves.

Of course, the researchers also point to websites like MySpace, YouTube, and OurGlobalDomination (access pending) as more indications of people engaging in attention-seeking behavior. They also point out that narcissism and a strong sense of self-worth could actually have positive yields, such as when meeting new people. The downside, according to the researchers, is that the students have been told that they're special for so long, it could affect their ability to have worthwhile and open relationships with others. After all, it's been well documented that relationships formed of two people with positive self-image will always end tragically, while relationships where one or both parties suffer from low self-esteem provide a wealth of love and happiness. Or however you want to define codependence.

Obviously, these psychologists are being a little too concerned. True, being more self-centered is a bad thing, but having a high self-worth does not necessarily correlate. If you think highly of yourself, it's entirely possible that nobody will ever meet your expectations, and your goals will completely run over the top of theirs in a sort of battle royale, until only one of you is the winner. Of course, it's also entirely possible that thinking highly of yourself will allow you to work towards your own goals, and to try to support others in their endeavors.

Part of the cycle of high self-worth, in our humble opinion, is the advent of reality programming. When everyone can get themselves onto television for their 15 seconds of fame (adjusted down due to larger numbers of people seeking portion of fame), then it can certainly lead to a greater sense of self-worth and entitlement. Heck, just look towards the celebutards like Paris Hilton and Brandon Davis to see just how out of proportion things can get. Still, shows such as "American Idol" and "Survivor" should also serve to point out something to the viewers of the shows (of which there are millions). The lesson? No matter how special and fabulous you think you are, there's a good chance that the rest of the country may not agree with you. Of course, you could pull a Jennifer Hudson and shove an Oscar win in the nation's face, but that sort of thing is really once in a lifetime.

So while it may be true that the college students today like themselves more than the college students of yesteryear, it doesn't necessarily mean that the end of the world and the end of interpersonal relationships is just around the corner. Because for every Paris Hilton, there is also an Eddie Murphy, willing to hide their own self-loathing behind layers and layers of fatsuit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Requirements: Sub-par intelligence, greed

The last few decades have seen an upswing in a once-banished trend in China. Namely, the trend is for Chinese businessmen to keep mistresses in second homes, away from the prying eyes of their legal spouse. But what do you do when your wife discovers that you're a joiner, and have a mistress of your own?

Well, one man in China is taking matters into his own hands, especially given that his wife seems to want to take matters into hers. She's made it clear that she's interested in beating up his mistress, to protect her marital stake and keep him on the straight and narrow. His response was to take out an Internet ad looking for a stand-in mistress, one that would take the physical abuse while his actual mistress is kept safe. The reward for being chosen for this particular job? The woman will get paid the equivalent of $400 per 10 minutes of beating.

Of course, with the world we currently live in, it should be no surprise that there have already been a number of applicants for this position. It should also be no surprise to anyone who reads the CSM that we're pretty certain that there were smarter ways to go about this whole mess. The first, of course, would be for the businessman to buck tradition, and decide that he really only needs the one woman in his life, especially given that she's itching to fight the other woman he's been giving his affections to. The second option would be to try to explain the full situation to his wife, all while dodging the haymakers that she was intending on raining down on his mistress. The third option would be to cower and hide from the entire situation, hoping that it will all work itself out, knowing that, at worst, it's time to get a new mistress.

Then, of course, there's always the professional wrestling option, where the businessman arrives just as the fight is about to begin, distracts his wife while his mistress gets either a set of brass knuckles or a folding chair, and then somehow finds himself caught in the crossfire as either the wife dodges, or the women join forces against him.

Yeah, we don't really think that last option is horribly likely. And yet, anytime we turn on the WWE, that's the exact situation we see. Maybe the ad really is the best way to go. If only we could get that sort of problem-solving done in America, then maybe we wouldn't have to keep seeing Cameron Diaz or Britney Spears. Anywhere.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of February 19, 2007

Welcome back for yet another round of weekly awards. This week featured a strong showing by spring-like temperatures, especially for the end of February. Of course, here in Minnesota, those temperatures can only mean one thing; we're getting a blizzard. This past week also featured more news than we could shake a stick at, GDub possibly having to accept that the Dems don't like the war, and VPCheney calling anyone he could "with the terrorists" over a bowl of fresh kitten cereal. With that, let's get rolling on our presentation.

Playing it Safe Award
This goes out to Rudy Giuliani, for making a point of attending events with favorable crowds. While other candidates have appeared in open forums in their early parts of their presidential campaigns, Giuliani appears to be sticking to areas where he's comfortable that he'll be met with a positive reception. This strategy was previously employed by the Bush administration, who used it effectively to return a system of checks and balances to Congress, and foster the spirit of bipartisanship. Okay, maybe not in the way they intended, but it still worked.

In and Out Award, Pt. One
We give this award out to former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who has already dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Vilsack's departure was met with commentary of, "Who's dropped out? Obama? No? Well, was it Hilary? No again? Um... who else was running again?"

Listen and Drink Award
This award is handed out to New York's Supreme Court, which recently ruled that an 80-year-old law forbidding dancing in bars is legal. Bargoers can no longer dance freely in places that do not have a specific license allowing them to do so, for fear of running afoul of the law. This legislation may seem silly, until you have to endure watching someone trying to do a "cabbage patch" after having had a few too many shots of tequila. Even more to the point, this should cut down on the number of white guys attempting to do "the running man" in a failed attempt to get a phone number.

In and Out Award, Pt. Two
Well, we've got to give this to Britney Spears. After all, she's currently in rehab (we think). This after having undergone two stints where she couldn't quite make it past the 24 hour mark... this week alone. She also, between stints, had the time to attack someone's car with an umbrella. And here we thought that nothing could make Kevin Federline look like the responsible one of the pair.

No, We're Colder Award
This one comes down to a draw, as we split the award between International Falls, MN and Fraser, CO, who are currently fighting over which town will be named "The Icebox of the Nation." Of course, actual temperatures don't come into play, as Stanley, ID is the coldest place in the country. Rumor has it that the winning city will receive a free year's supply of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, while the losing city will have to console themselves with a copy of the home game. The CSM is still trying to shake the belief that the coldest place in the nation is slightly off left of center in VPCheney's chest cavity.

Can We Look Yet? Award
Um, we think the whole Anna Nicole Smith thing is done now. Oh, wait, we forgot about the fact that more people are claiming paternity than auditioned for American Idol.

In and Out Award, Pt. Three
What do you do when someone breaks into your apartment with a sword, trying to stop a rape? If you're in Oconomowoc, WI, you point out you were just watching Spanish porn. And that you finished watching the tape 9 hours before. We're just going to guess that the guy with the sword was "pre-occupied" for awhile.

Tools: Not Just for Men Anymore Award
Recent studies have shown that chimpanzees have been using more tools than scientists originally thought. The most recent discovery? Female chimps have been seen fashioning makeshift spears to help assist in a hunt, while male chimps generally went without. This still doesn't answer the question why many male humans were, at least a few years back, trying to fashion makeshift Spears, while many women went without.

That wraps up our awards for another week. Check back with us next week, to see which animal form the month of March takes at the beginning. Our bets are on some sort of freakish lion-lamb crossbreed, with a fluffy wool coat, but a huge bristling mane and pointy teeth. Or maybe we should lay off the sweets before bedtime. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scalpel! No, forceps!

It should have been routine. After all, it was merely an appendix operation, one of the more common forms of surgery performed worldwide. And yet, somehow, in the middle of the operation, a couple of surgeons stormed away from the patient, leaving their life hang in the balance.

Ok, maybe that's a little to E.R. for what actually happened, but the two surgeons did leave the patient to fight with each other, leaving the attending assistant to finish the operation. Luckily for all involved, there were other doctors able to complete the procedure, due to either a lack of romantic entanglement, problems involving Junior Mints, or the entire staff working hard to save one of their own.

According to witnesses, one of the doctors, Dragan Vukanic, entered the operating room, and made a few snarky comments, getting the ball rolling on the fight. Not to be outdone, the surgeon working on the patient at the time, Spasoje Radulovic, made it known that the comments were unnecessary. Isaiah Washington came in and said something disparaging about homosexuals. And, before you knew it, Radulovic and Vukanic had left the operating room, getting into a fight that resulted in bruises, split lips, and a broken finger.

Now, while we here at the CSM can't begin to pretend that we've spent a lot of time in hospitals, we can admit that we've certainly seen a few episodes of hospital television shows. Our observations have caused us to learn a few things. First off, if your fellow surgeon makes a catty comment towards you, the revenge tactic you should display is by proving yourself the better of the two doctors. In lieu of that, sleep with their significant other, knowing that your shared infidelity will be scorn enough. Secondly, a stern chief of staff, perhaps with a cane and a lack of humor, could have kept the situation from boiling over, until the point where there were no options other than hugging it out over a beer. And finally, while you may have fought, there will be that patient who will come into your hospital, requiring you and your enemy to put your differences aside all in the name of the Hippocratic Oath.

Or, there'll be a super-intelligent janitor who'll be at the root of all your problems, but you'll be able to laugh it off. Either way, bad form, Drs. Radulovic and Vukanic. We had hope for the surgeons in Belgrade, but you have shown us just how far you have to go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A face for the White House

With the recent decision by the US Treasury to make their dollar coins a little more presidential, it should stand to reason that those who have held the position may be brought under a bit more scrutiny. It should also stand to reason that, if you're going to analyze past presidents, you really should start at the beginning, and work your way onwards from there.

When thinking of George Washington, what are some of the words that come to mind? Determined? Strong will to govern? Sparkling eyes and firm cheeks?

Wait, what?

That's right. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Arizona Statue University joined forces, and merged sciences, to produce new images of our first president, at various stages in his life. According to their research, Washington as a young man was far more attractive than the man we think of when we picture our money. While it's probably safe to bet that George was no "Lady Killer" Kennedy or William "Smooth" Clinton, it's also safe to assume that he was far above the league of "Marshmallow Belly" Taft, "Craggy" Nixon, or James "Acne-pocked" Polk.

The new images of George Washington can be found at Mount Vernon, and we can already predict some of the potential responses. Obviously, voters will point out that Washington set the precedent that allowed charisma to carry the day over ability to govern, as has been shown time and time again, from Millard Fillmore to the Nixon/Kennedy debates, all the way to Ahnold's position as governor of California. There will also be those who, in their own way, will make a point of letting the world know that, if Washington were alive today, they would "totally hit that".

At least, that's what we assume Paris Hilton would say.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A new definition of "sausage fingers"

Scientists have been trying to figure out for decades, if not longer, how certain animals can regenerate missing pieces. Studies have been done producing spontaneously healing mice, salamanders with more arms than an Hindu goddess, and a new breakthrough for humans. This summer, testing will begin to discover whether a powdered pig extract can result in the regrowth of lost fingers and, potentially, full limbs.

If this technology ends up working, it could lead to huge advances overall. People could not only regrow their missing digits, but the overly-scar-conscious could get new skin instead of the usual puckering. Nevermind the thought of everyone being able to count to ten on their fingers, no matter what type of accident they may have experienced in the past.

Ultimately, the scientists are hoping to be able to reproduce in humans something found in salamanders, with their ability to reproduce missing limbs quickly. Instead of the usual scarring found in many creatures, which has a tendency to halt the healing process, salamanders produce a bundle of cells that carries the "memory" of what had been in place before. Substitute this bundle of cells, in whole or in part, and you can theoretically produce new copies in places that they didn't previously exist.

While the scientists are making progress, and have even bred mice to produce blastemas instead of scars, the reality of limb or digit regeneration is still quite a ways off. While there have been isolated instances, there is nothing sustainable as of yet. Still, that could ultimately be a good thing. After all, is the world really prepared for a whole new level of plastic surgery, where people grow a third (or fourth) arm just because it's possible?

And don't even get us started on what it could (and probably would) mean for breast augmentation. We can't help but flash back to Total Recall on that one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of February 12, 2007

Welcome back to another end-of-the-week capper to the CSM. We've survived through the week (not because of Valentine's Day, but because the President gave a press conference), and are looking out across the weekend with our eyes full of hopes and our hearts full of dreams. This is largely due to the fact that we're still reliving the predictions of a hibernating mammal from a couple of weeks ago, and are starting to get impatient for Mother Nature to catch up. Anyways, let's get rolling with the awards.

This Just In Award
CNN may still be a little unsure, but we're not. She's still dead. Moving on (since too much of the rest of the world hasn't)...

La Vida Loca Award
We've got to hand it to Ricky Martin. The Puerto Rican singer recently decided to let his middle finger do his non-verbal speaking for him during a recent song mentioning GDub. Martin had previously performed at Bush's 2001 inauguration, but has changed positions due to the war. And, if we've learned anything from celebrities, including those past their prime, it's that doing something like flipping the bird during a concert will definitely spark social change. Heck, the rest of Menudo has been giving the middle finger to people for years, and look where that's gotten them.

Rattle and Um Award
We give this to the state of North Dakota, for turning down a resolution to honor U2 frontman Bono. The resolution was proposed to honor the Irishman's contribution towards helping Third World countries and other advocacy, and was shot down when lawmakers astutely observed that Bono has no real connection to the state of North Dakota. Of course, if such a resolution had been proposed in Minnesota, there's a chance it would've passed, simply because he has left the state.

Other Side of the Coin Award
The US Mint once again showed its perseverance, and released yet another new dollar coin, in an attempt to push Americans towards more metal in the pocket, and less paper in the billfold. The new coins, which are about the same size as the recent failed attempt to push forward the Sacagawea dollar, will feature the Presidents in a rotation similar to the state quarters roll-out. Expect people to once again become giddy about the new coins for a few months, then complain loudly that they keep getting them confused with quarters in the dark. After about a year, the only place the coins should readily appear will be at Renaissance Festivals across the nation, for people who want to pay with "period coinage".

A Little Less Conversation Award
Santa Fe, New Mexico is looking into ways to curtail excessive drinking. The city has stumbled on what may be a master stroke, and started installing talking deodorizers in bars and restaurants encouraging people to avoid drinking and driving. Cheerful messages suggesting a cab or a sober friend are starting to be heard, with the hopes of adding some humor while getting an effective campaign going. No word on how this will affect people who already have enough problems using public restrooms, or why all of the voices inexplicably sound like George Michael.

Free to Bounce Award
A while back, there was a report about a costumed Disney character running afoul of a family, due to a videotaped that seemed to show the actor hitting one of the children. Well, thankfully for Tigger, charges won't be filed in the case, according to the Florida State Attorney's Office. Of course, the altercation wasn't observed until the tape was watched, and the tape did sort of make the whole thing look like an accident. In an unrelated story, hordes of costumed actors are planning on storming state and county fairs, armed only with their bare hands and sour whiskey breath.

Um, Ew Award
An 84-year-old woman in Oregon recently confessed to having had sex with an 11-year-old boy while he was in her care. The woman will serve 36-months in prison, and be forced to register as a sex offender, as well as pay for both counseling and damages for the boy. Meanwhile the boy will need to find the most attractive man or woman on the planet (dependent upon sexual orientation) to ever find sex enjoyable.

Okay, yeah. We probably didn't really need to go and include that last story, but darnit, if our eyes drifted over the headline and we read through everything, we wanted you to be brought into our dirty little corner of the world. With that, we close out another week down here at the CSM. We'll do our part hoping for the best for the poor Oregon boy, and we'll also tilt our glasses back in the hopes that, with a little beer, we can help urge spring along its path. Until next time, stay safe out there.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Killing the buzz

Courtney Cox doesn't seem to really get the promotional machine. True, she was able to parlay her appearance in a Bruce Springsteen video into a career featuring, amongst other things, the recurring role of Gale Weathers in the Scream movies, and the durability of the Friends sitcom. But she took the goodwill generated by such roles and turned it sour, by marrying costar David Arquette (the least-talented and second-least-manly member of the Arquette clan). Then, while Matthew Perry was proving that he can actually act outside of the Chandler Bing box, admittedly on the worst-for-Sorkin Studio 60, little Monica Gellar has decided to gift us with the show Dirt.

You may not be familiar with Dirt, and not just because it's playing on FX. The show saw a bunch of hype leading up to it, but has failed to find a viewership, seemingly in large part to the notion of celebrities who've made their distaste for the tabloids clear trying to present a show about the tabloid industry. But there could be another reason why Dirt can't seem to gather the viewers that Cox and others hope it will get. It's possible that Courtney is single-handedly driving people away by derailing the potential hype surrounding the show.

The most glaring example of this, of course, comes in the nature of the upcoming guest appearance by former Friend Jennifer Aniston. It was leaked early on that the episode would show a kiss between Aniston and Cox, something that, understandably, more than a few folks who watched Friends hoped for. Seemingly, the hype around the image of the two actresses kissing would do the work to draw the viewers. It would certainly help wash the thought of the Vaughn fling from our thoughts about Aniston.

But Courtney simply couldn't allow the hype to build. She has come out to say that the kiss is really "not a big deal", but that people should still tune in to watch because of the acting. Um, Courtney, if people were going to tune in to see the acting, they'd have done so already. Adding one more person in a guest role to showcase their talent isn't going to help. Adding someone to increase the sex appeal of your program, especially when your lead apparently has found a way to make masturbation look as dull and mechanical on screen as it must be when you're married to David Arquette, could just do the trick and keep the plug from getting itself pulled.

In other words, Courtney, let a kiss be a kiss. And, in the minds of potential viewers, that kiss between you and Aniston could have produced more than sparks. Make amends, and bring Lisa Kudrow on as a nymphomaniac bisexual, and we'll talk again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Educating the masses

Poor Kansas. It's been made the subject of far too many jokes about it's education system over the last few years, and, yes, we're about to get ourselves into that line. But really, when the state made their battles over the teaching of evolution or intelligent design known, they could pretty easily feel themselves being placed into the crosshairs. Ultimately, though, one battle over such a subject really isn't that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things.

What's that, you say? Kansas has just changed their minds again? For the fourth time in eight years?

Okay, they're practically asking for the attention now. While it's true that plenty of people across the country know of Kansas first as the gateway to Oz, and secondly as the homestate of Clark Kent, it's not like the state really needs to go out of its way to get attention. It's pretty enough, and can be important, all while being relatively unassuming. In fact, Kansas kind of fits the movie role of the plain girl that could just be beautiful if she accepted herself (and lost the glasses). Unfortunately, she's busy trying to turn herself into Tara Reid, thereby getting attention, but none of it the right kind.

So please, dear Kansas, take this to heart. You are loved within the United States. You have your own special qualifications, and you're good enough for so many of us. True, Kansas City leaks over into Missouri, but it's not like there's a Missouri City, so you've gotta give them a break. You don't need to try and prove how smart you are, or aren't, every couple of years. So please, let the whole evolution/intelligent design thing go.

After all, you don't want us helping you countdown the New Year for 2008, do you?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Diving into security

First, Douglas Adams makes them out to be the second-most intelligent creatures on the planet, behind white mice. Now, the United States Navy is interested to find out if dolphins can be used for guard duty. Specially trained groups of dolphins and sea lions are possibly going to be released to act as guard portions of the Pacific Northwest, including Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state. Of course, this portion of the Pacific Ocean does include storage for about a quarter of all active (and inactive) nuclear weaponry.

The Navy has been working for years to train these marine mammals in colder-than-usual temperatures, and are preparing an environmental impact statement before making a final decision on the feasability of their plan within eighteen months. A previous attempt to utilize dolphins as guards was blocked in 1989, but the Navy feels that the plan should be able to go through this time around.

Of course, people may have difficulty thinking of dolphins or sea lions as guard animals, but that's not to say that they couldn't do such activities. After all, they are both incredibly agile species, with the sea lions even receiving training in using a form of handcuffs. The dolphins are being tapped for their ability to see longer distances. And both species can dive deeper and faster than a rottweiler with a SCUBA tank, without the worries of decompression that the dog may have to face.

Ultimately, the Navy may find it necessary to use dolphins and their kin in place of soldiers as guards. In fact, the Army may need to consider increasing their own usage of dogs, and the Air Force might want to look into training falcons. Not only will this free up soldiers for the ongoing surge in troop numbers overseas, but costs can be trimmed in what the guards are fed.

Besides, wouldn't it be kind of neat to see the dolphins sounding an alarm by doing flips through hoops, "walking" backwards across the water, and then batting a ball high into the air?

Monday, February 12, 2007

The power of the nap

A recent study done watching twenty-three thousand adult Greeks for six years has yielded some interesting results. The results that they discovered? Napping during the week can significantly reduce stress levels, and possibly even lessen the chances of heart failure. Of course, this has already led to employees insisting that they aren't actually asleep at work, but that they are resting their heart. High school students are using a similar tactic, while college students gleefully embrace a nap-centric culture.

While many cultures have incorporated midday breaks to rest for a very long time, these cultures were generally found in warmer climates, where the break was almost necessary. After all, who would, or even could, continue working through the hottest part of the day in a time where air conditioning didn't exist? The midday breaks just became a part of the tradition for many of those cultures.

This recent study could actually encourage more empoyers to embrace the concept of on-the-job naps. The naps need only be as long as a half-hour for there to be an effect, and, for a little bit of time to catch some sleep in the middle of the day, employers may find more refreshed and invigorated employees.

Of course, being a member of the caffeine culture, it seems a little counterintuitive. Sure, naps are great, but wasn't coffee discovered as a way to keep us pushing ourselves beyond the breaking point, just to stay awake? Didn't we discover that there were ways to incorporate caffeine in even more ways in our daily lives, just to stave off sleep for a few more precious minutes?

Although, the more that we here at the CSM think about the concept of naps, the more we realize that plenty of people will need a little afternoon pick-me-up to help get them back on track after their nap is over. While they will take the nap to help their hearts and lower their stress, they'll return to caffeine in the long run, to manage the rest of their day and propel them through the long hours. Perhaps, if this idea takes root, new employees will be greeted with a coffee mug and a pillow on their first day of work, the better to take advantage of both their nap-time, and their caffeine fix.

And, if there's someone who's had too much coffee to take their nap, you could stream episodes of Yes, Dear or Everwood into their cubicles. If either one of those don't fix that temporary insomnia, nothing will.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of February 5, 2007

The first full week of February has slipped past us, and while good portion of the country is still locked in winter's icy grip, there's been enough news to keep us bubbling, and feeling warm and cozy on the inside. Of course, the CSM being what it is, we're not going to focus on any of that, instead choosing to take our slanted aim at some of the other stories that crossed our line of sight these past few days. So let's get this started, and yes, we're going to be like the rest of the media and start with (seemingly) the biggest story of the week.

Live Fast, Die Young Award
Anyone who picked Anna Nicole Smith in their Celebrity Dead Pool was at least a little psychic. Moving on...
The Breast Intentions Award

The Breast Cancer Society of Canada has recently turned down a few thousand dollars in charitable donations. Why? Because the money was raised by exotic dancers. Although it seems like the perfect way to get men, who generally don't think much about breast cancer unless it affects them personally, to give money to help find a cure. It'd be like male strippers donating some of their tips to an organization researching prostate problems. In related news, the exotic dancers are now considering sending their donation straight to Fredericks of Hollywood, in exchange for new clothes. Others call this "shopping".

Turning the Tables Award
A restaurant in West Belfast was recently awarded £25,000 after a jury found that the Irish News had given them a defamatory review. The paper's review was fairly critical of the restaurant, which the owner claimed as a "hatchet job" that hurt business. The suit was filed because the Irish News had failed to print a retraction or an apology. We here at the CSM haven't seen the review, but we can only imagine that the complaint stemmed from the paper having compared the Belfast restaurant with McDonalds, which is an obviously Scottish name.

What's in A Name Award
How could last Sunday possibly go wrong for Chicago native Scott Wiese? After all, the Chicago Bears fan was so confident in his team that, if the Bears somehow lost, he would change his name to Peyton Manning. Well, lo and behold, Mr. Wiese woke up Monday morning with the knowledge that his days as Scott Wiese were numbered. He has already filed the paperwork to request the name change. On the plus side, there wasn't a similar bet made using the name Englebert Humperdinck.

That's Not Nougat Award
We give this to an unnamed Italian chocolatier, for providing a man in Germany with a surprise in his candy. The man located a finger when he bit into a chocolate, instead of the expected nuts and other potential fillings. The fingertip went unnoticed largely due to the other ingredients in the delicacies. Luckily, or unluckily, the candy wasn't found in America, where the finger would have been mostly ingested prior to discovery. Nevermind the immediate lawsuit, with the defendant pointing with a Snickers bar.

Caffeinated Commentary
Monday, we here at the CSM detailed "sexpresso" shops. Well, as respected (we hope) members of the caffeinated community, we felt that something more really needed to be said about all of this.
Sex and coffee is a combination of two of our favorite things. In fact, both outrank sleeping by a wide margin. Just think of how more readily and freely you would give away your $7.50/day for a latte, if only you could have it served by a fine specimen of your chosen gender. With the amount of money that would be poured into the economy through a larger proliferation of these types of coffee shops, we could filter some of those profits into charitable donations, such as cancer research, or a way to improve the coffee bean itself to produce a higher caffeine content.
So this is a call out to the President. No, not President Bush. I'm speaking of the President of coffee, Howard Schultz. The man who positioned Starbucks into the global machine that it currently is.
We here at the CSM ask this of you, Mr. Schultz. You are the one who can take the torch lit by these scantily clad ladies of the latte, and take it running to new heights, and new levels of impact. Picture, if you will, the Nordic ideals serving coffee in Minnesota, while sultry Southerners deliver the goods in Atlanta. This could rapidly spread across the country, providing a new meaning to the morning pick-me-up.
But that's not all. This could go multinational. There could be Celtic gods and goddesses across the British Isles delivering coffee to the masses, people under revealing furs throughout Siberia, and a carry-over of the geisha tradition in Japan. Not to mention the potential for bringing sexpresso to the Middle East, possibly ending, or at least easing, some of the strife throughout that region.
So Mr. Schultz, we ask this of you. We beg this of you. Don't think just about the bottom line. Think about the potential to make this a big and beautiful caffeinated world. And think about how coffee can bring us all together.
Help us, Howard Schultz. You're our only hope.

Stay safe out there.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In case you were curious

We all know that our jobs are slowly killing us. Leave it to the folks at to come up with a way to show us exactly how that's happening.

Recently, CareerBuilder launched the "Age-O-Matic", which allows you to upload a photo, then answer a humorous survey about your job. As the answer the survey questions, the photo is altered based off the answers provided to include age spots, wrinkles, and other assorted tell-tale signs of aging. You can then take the updated photo and spread it around your office, sharing it with your coworkers, and, for the brave amongst you, your boss.

Now, before everyone gets carried away and sends pictures of themselves aged multiple years on to their fellow wageslaves, let's take a moment to think about the wisdom of using such a device. Sure, it's all meant in fun, but what happens if the picture you create today is a fair representation of how you look in five or ten years? And what happens if the today's image actually looks younger than you do after a few years? Have the people at CareerBuilder thought about the possible repercussions of their "Age-O-Matic"?

Still, such a feature could actually be a lot of fun. Imagine if all industries utilized such software. Actors could use a "Star-O-Matic" to determine how many roles they would need to take at their current level to be able to claim top billing for a movie. There could be an "Arena-O-Matic" for bands looking to sell out the biggest venues. Models could have a "Thin-O-Matic" showing them just how skinny they can be by eating only a few cucumber seeds and drinking water.

And Paris Hilton and the rest of her ilk could use the "Annoy-O-Matic" to determine just how long they can keep showing up and getting people to pay attention. In fact, it seems that Andy Dick and K-Fed have already used the "Annoy-O-Matic", and have twisted it to their own nefarious purposes, thrusting themselves even longer into their own dim spotlights.

Truly, the potential is mind-boggling.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Now that's a porcelain throne

It seems like a scene out of the recent Mike Judge movie Idiocracy, but it could soon be coming to a bathroom near year. Ohio's Roto-Rooter has created a "luxury toilet", and plans to give away their creation through an online contest. The winner will get to install their brand new porcelain throne, complete with gadgets.

But what sorts of gadgets, you may wonder? There's an iPod, an Xbox, an Rfridge (okay, got a little carried away there), a flat-screen television, and a laptop computer. But that's not all. Worried that spending all of your time on the toilet watching television or snacking on the goodies from the refrigerator may lead to health problems? No need to worry, because the Roto-Rooter toilet also includes an exercise cycle-style attachment, to help keep you fit.

Roto-Rooter points out that the average person spends almost a year and a half in the bathroom (and on the toilet) over the course of their lives, and uses that figure to justify their super-john. After all, if you're going to spend that much time anywhere, shouldn't you at least be able to enjoy the time you spend? Creating such a toilet does certainly increase the convenience of the old standby, and makes for a more interesting bathroom experience. But have they looked at the potential downside?

No, not the downside of Dax Sheppard flushing his couch. We're thinking a bit more practical, such as having to explain to your children why daddy spends so much time in the bathroom. Finding your teenage son surfing the internet (for porn) all while "taking care of business". Trying to convince your spouse that sitting on the toilet watching football but peddling away at the exercise cycle constitutes good exercise, especially because it's 3rd and 4 to go, there's 2:15 left in the game, and your team is down by a field goal. Nevermind the fact that eventually, someone's going to have to get up to restock the fridge, so that the toilet can get its own form of "restock".

Do we need a toilet with all of these features? Overall, the answer is no. If we needed it, then you would never see things like Oscar parties, or friends coming over to watch movies. Although, come to think of it, there is a benefit, and one that ABC might want to capitalize on. With the advent of the super-toilet, there would finally be crap associated with TV that didn't immediately bring Jim Belushi to mind.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

That's discouraging

A recent poll conducted by Unilever, the company behind brands like Axe, Bertolli, Country Crock, and Dove, sheds some light into the priorities of women. In fact, the study showed that, on average, women would be willing to give up sex for over a year if it meant that they got a new wardrobe, with some even being willing to obstain for three times as long just for the new duds. In fact, over half polled would rather not have sex for a month than lose their favorite shirt.

The study conducted by Unilever also showed that women tend to hold onto their favorite clothes longer than they hold on to their favorite partner, and that the vast majority feel that they can fall in love instantly with clothing. Barely half feel the same way with regards to a potential mate.

Needless to say, this type of report can really burst a lot of guys bubbles, so to speak. After all, what man wants to hear that their girlfriend believes her clothes can make her feel sexier than he can ever hope to? And yet, this should really come as no surprise. After all, the stereotype of the gruff, unsensitive man exists for the same reason all stereotypes exist. Because, on some base level, the stereotypes resonate with some level of truth. Yes, women tend to be more comfortable and more attached to their clothes than to their men, but come on. How often do men really support women in all the ways possible? What man was ever designed to cause feelings of confidence and sexiness without giving too much away? What man can answer without either fear or laughter when asked if those jeans make her butt look big? So no, ladies and gentlemen, the results of this survey should truly surprise nobody.

In a related survey that will remain unpublished, the vast majority of men declared that they would go naked if it ensured that they got sex more often. Sadly for a number of the men surveyed, they've gone without sex for over a year due to a little something we like to call discriminating tastes.

On the part of their well-dressed dates.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hot coffee

Coffee drinkers in Seattle suburbs are getting more than just a mouthful when they pick up their morning coffee. Plenty are visiting new coffee shops and are getting an eyeful, as well. "Sexpresso" shops are popping up everywhere in the Seattle area, offering a morning pick-me-up in a few different varieties.

With names like Sweet Spot Cafe, Bikini Espresso, and Cowgirl Espresso, these coffee shops feature coffee and espresso drinks served by scantily clad baristas. Even the drinks have gotten renamed to be more sexually suggestive, with new titles like the Sexual Mix or the Wet Dream. And while there's been some community outcry because of these sexy coffee shops, the local Sheriff's Department has made it clear that the girls aren't doing anything inherently illegal, so long as they're covered.

Let's think about this for a split second. While it may not seem like a huge leap in logic to realize that coffee (liquid stimulant) might just mix with sexy servers (physical stimulant), this idea did take some time to come to light. After all, it wasn't really all that long ago that some Hooters locations were having difficulty staying open, and they'd already come pretty close to perfecting the boobs and brew mindset. Of course, their brew was beer, but, well, it's not too much of a step to get to that next level.

Ultimately, it was only a matter of time for someone, unsurprisingly from the Pacific Northwest, to combine the American love affair with coffee shops (just look at places like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee for proof that this affair isn't over yet) with the American love affair with near-nudity. True, these shops employ primarily women at this point, but it seems to be a lot easier to get men to cough up their money to a scantily clad woman than it is to get the opposite pulled. If that weren't true, there'd be more male strip clubs.

So yes, let's combine sex with our coffee. Let's have our scones served up by a buxom barista. Let's have our cappucino, all while watching a girl in a bikini work the steam wand. Let's sincerely hope that none of the girls get confused and decide to hold a "Coffee-Soaked T-Shirt Contest", thereby sending themselves to the emergency room. Let's take heart that, only in America, will our coffee by served hot by a barista who makes it look cool.

And, for the love of all that's holy, let's not ask for room for cream. That's just asking for trouble.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of January 29, 2007

Another week has come and gone, and things have certainly been interesting. From Joe Biden to Harry Potter, there's been plenty of news out there to keep the world busy. So, without further ado, we begin our weekly round-up of awards.

More Than Just Yellow Snow Award
Snowfalls in Siberia don't tend to cause much of a stir. However, when the snowfall in question is coming in bright orange and yellow, there's a bit more reason for people to be concerned. The snow is not only oddly colored, but it is also oily and has a foul smell. As a point of note, this phenomenon could lead to the worst tasting Sno-Cone ever.

Here are the Nominees for President Award
This award goes to Al Gore, who is in the middle of speculations that he may enter the Presidential race if his film, An Inconvenient Truth, wins an Oscar for Best Documentary. Even his former campaign chief seems to be hoping for that chance, and implied such to a recent audience. Oddly enough, she also said that she would prefer to see Barack Obama receive the nomination. Perhaps not even a little gold statue can make Al Gore seem less stiff in comparison.

An Animal Predicts the Weather Award
Yes, it's Groundhog Day across the United States. That, of course, means that the biggest celebrity of the day is a small mammal named Phil. Phil, the groundhog meteorologist, failed to see his shadow this morning, thereby predicting an early end to winter. This flies in the face of calendars across the country that steadfastly proclaim that spring will not start until mid-March. Meanwhile, trained meteorologists are still having a difficult time trying to predict accurately whether or not snow is falling at this very moment.

Don't Drink That Award
Hospitalized patients. Prison inmates. What do these two things have in common? Well, according to letters written into the New England Journal of Medicine, members of both groups have recently become intoxicated, and potentially poisoned, by drinking hand sanitizer gel, simply becaus of the ingredient of alchohol. Doctors are now warning against drinking the gels, because of the health risks involved, and are encouraging the manufacturers to change the labels mentioning the percentage of isopropyl alchohol used. Normal people should be at no risk of drinking these products due to their ability to know that you should never drink something that is in a gel format.

Not the Bomb Part One Award
We give this award to Google, for finally dismantling the "GoogleBombs". These prank search results led to Russians finding Vladimir Putin as an "enemy of the people", and French military victories being relabled as defeats. It also means that, in the United States, entering "miserable failure" into Google will no longer bring up the biography of President GDub. Unfortunately for the Decider, entering "miserable failure" into the mind of most Americans will still bring the immediate connection to the Commander in Chief.

Like, Whoa, Man Award
This award goes to scientists in Great Britain, who are working to isolate a chemical found in cannabis that may help curb appetites. This, of course, is contrary to the common knowledge that marijuana usage leads to increased hunger. Stoners worldwide could not be reached for comment, presumably because they were out at the gas station picking up Doritos.

Not the Bomb Part Two Award
Finally, we hand this award directly to the people behind the marketing campaign for Adult Swim that shut down Boston. While it may seem that peppering cities with Lite-Brite renditions of characters from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon may seem like a non-event, the placement of the ads (and the lack of information for those unfamiliar with the show) led many to believe it was some sort of a bomb scare. The ads were placed in other cities as well, with no reaction similar to the one found in Beantown. Turner Broadcasting, parent company for the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, has already apologized, and is looking to make amends to the city of Boston. The prime demographic for ATHF could not be reached for comment, presumably because they were out at the gas station picking up Doritos. In related news, Adult Swim is scrapping plans to advertise Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law by dropping eye patches across major cities. No word yet on whether the large number of unfunny overweight men is tied in any way to promotions for ABC's According to Jim.

And that wraps up our awards for this week. Come back next week as we continue our countdown towards the end of winter, and those of us in the northern portion of the country try and find out if all of our fingers and toes still work. Until next time, stay safe out there.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Way (not) to start a run

Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) recently announced his intentions to enter the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Within days, he may have already put himself out of contention, with nothing but the power of his mouth. Biden, who once said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent," made new headlines by classifying opponent Barack Obama (D-Illinois) as being "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Apparently, in the world of Joe Biden, bathing is important for the position of Commander in Chief.

Of course, Biden later expressed regret over "any offense (his) remark in the New York Observer might have caused," but went on to point out that the definition of "clean" he was using was a synonym for "fresh". That still leaves Biden calling Obama the first smart, well-spoken, attractive, and fresh African-American candidate.

While there have definitely been times where Al Sharpton could call into question cleanliness simply because of his hair, I don't think you could ever really say that he, or Jesse Jackson before him were not truly clean. Or articulate. Hell, every once in awhile, I still hear Jesse Jackson in my head saying, "But the patch is not big enough." And he said that in 1988. Also, both Jackson and Sharpton, while maybe a little too eager to jump in on causes that aren't necessarily causes, are intelligent men, and they are at least trying to use their intellect to further the nation.

In the wake of his comments, Biden has made apologies, and also went so far as to say that he had "no doubt that Jesse Jackson and every other black leader... will know exactly what (he) meant." Great. Thanks, Joe. What about the African-Americans who may not have the high profile of Jackson, Moseley Braun, Sharpton or some others? Will they understand? Will they know that you weren't simply in awe of Barack Obama's personal grooming habits?

On a day where Al Franken tosses his name into the hat for a possible Minnesota Senate run, isn't it kind of sad to see the comedian a more serious candidate than the longtime politician?